education, ethics, inspirational, motivational, Uncategorized

Customer Service

Great Customer Service! In Trinidad that is an oxymoron. However I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised on Monday 5th June.

Image result for customer service

There I was harassed and concerned about obtaining my International Visa Travel Card. I had joined a queue. You know how waiting multiplies times. Well… I felt that I had been there for a long, long time.

Just as I got to the top of the line, from almost nowhere, another bank customer rushed to the counter to “ask a question”. I was so annoyed but I kept my peace and waited to see what would be the outcome.

Thankfully, something wonderful happened. Something I hardly ever witness. The attending clerk very politely informed said customer that there was a line and everyone else was waiting to ask a question also.

I was relieved. I really thought that the person would have gotten through by breaking the line and it was a breath of fresh air to encounter fair customer service.

I got through but ended up having to visit another section in the same branch. Again, as I sat awaiting my turn, a hot and bothered woman rushed to the counter, with the look on her face that she was very busy and needed attending to right away.

There was already another customer at the counter, so I told her that she had to take a seat and wait her turn. Her response? “I just want to ask a question.” Well ‘dearie’ that is exactly what I was waiting to do as well. I shrugged and let her be.

The clerk noticed her standing impatiently in the way and addressed her with a pleasant, “Good morning”. That was her cue to rush in and “ask her question”.

Again I was fortunate to witness another moment of impartiality, rightness, courtesy, integrity…call it what you will, I witnessed it and was so pleased.

The clerk very nicely asked her to sit and wait her turn. She sat next to me and sought a sympathetic ear. I usually do lend such an ear but not this time. I could not condone her actions.

Would you believe that I witnessed yet another such incident mere hours later at another financial situation? My, my I just may have to reassess the level of customer service in Trinidad. It seems that slowly the apparently uncaring servers are evolving into people with a conscience and a kind, considerate and gentle disposition.

Kudos to those two financial institutions. My faith in humanity and goodness was nurtured on Monday.

book launch, bounce back better, education, motivational, Uncategorized

Bounce Back Better

 

Are you at a crossroad in your life? Have you experienced the loss of a loved one or the loss of your job? Did you just go through a defining moment in your life such as a major ill health diagnosis, an accident  or trauma due to a violent attack?

Maybe you are feeling burnt out at work or have a sense of restlessness, like there is something missing.

If you are overwhelmed with uncertainty about the future or if a friend or loved one seems to be feeling like this, then my new book, Bounce Back Better is for you!

This book is highly recommended by Trinidadian educator and education consultant, Raymond S. Hackett. Here is what Mr. Hackett had to say about the book in his foreword:

As an educator for the past five decades and three years, I cannot honestly admit that I have read a book more comprehensive than and relevant to the times as Bounce Back Better 10 (+ 1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.  Inspired by the message and advice which characterise this book, I look forward to an outcome which will cause the general public, magistrates, judges, lawyers, members of the Lower House and the Senate of our Parliament, policemen, doctors, nurses, social workers, probation officers, teachers, particularly secondary school students above Forms One and Two, guidance officers, clinical psychologists, and last but not least advocates of Restorative Justice to read this third book which Caron Asgarali has written. Without doubt, it is prescribed reading for all.

Click on the link below to get your copy of Bounce Back Better, 10 (+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.

https://www.amazon.com/Bounce-Back-Better-Caron-Asgarali/dp/1504368568

Let me know if you think you need a book like this right now in your life, in the comments below.

 

inspirational, motivational, peace, relationship, Uncategorized

Relationship Tape

What a wonderful metaphor I encountered innocently last week!

One of my students claims that she is very clumsy. This I learnt as I observed that her 12 inch (30cm) ruler was broken and repaired with…scotch tape and her spectacles handles were taped to the frame as they had broken off sometime ago.

As we joked about her clumsiness, a thought hit me. Many things can be broken and repaired simply by applying tape or glue. I myself had broken my cell phone once and repaired it with tape. Many torn pages were held precariously together with tape or staples.

If only it were so simple to mend broken relationships!

Image result for relationship tape

However relationships are formed between living, breathing, emotional beings. We grow into relationships, daily doing things to earn trust, to build rapport, to show support and to demonstrate our love for another human being or for that matter an animal, a pet.

The human ego , the psyche, is extremely fragile. Some more than others. It takes time to forge bonds. They are tested time and time again. And sadly in an instant of volatility, one mistake, one harsh word, one misunderstood emotion or one misstep can cause those carefully crafted to bonds to snap!

Perhaps it is a good thing that this type of breakage is difficult to repair. Had it been easier then less effort and time would be spent on trying to build rather than break down bonds.

What if there was some sort of relationship tape or staple or glue that  could be used to mend a broken relationship or heal a hurting heart?

After we laughed about this direction that our conversation had shifted into, it became clear that there is a way.

Of course nothing worthwhile comes without a lot of hard work. So this “relationship tape” comes through the practices of faith, humility, gratitude and forgiveness.

Each one of those is a huge mouthful for anyone. In today’s technologically advanced world, people have become worshipers of the Universe. Alternatively they claim to be atheists or highly open minded so that anything goes. Faith though is integral in any undertaking. We do things not knowing the final outcomes and that in itself is faith.

Spiritual faith gives us a freedom and strength to be able to release perceived or real hurts and helps us to see the good in spite of the bad. It provides for us a foundation of integrity, morals and values that is needed for the development of civility and social consciousness.

Humility, gratitude and forgiveness come with faith. That does not mean it comes easily. We are human and hence imperfect beings. No matter what our religious persuasion or faith may be, practicing these big guns of character definitions is difficult. Difficult not impossible.

By adopting a humble approach, we can see things with new lenses. We can learn to put others before self. Not easy by any standard but with daily practice it becomes more integrated into our behaviours.

Gratitude makes us cast a backward glance and recognize the good that others may have done for us, even the ones who are currently doing something to bring pain. It makes us see the small efforts, not just the large gestures.

Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most difficult practices. But when we incorporate faith, gratitude and humility into our habits, then forgiveness comes much more easily.

Our “relationship tape” then is formed by the melding together of faith, humility, gratitude and forgiveness.

The next time you mend a torn page or stick a broken ornament, remember that relationships can be mended too…with the right “tape”.

 

inspirational, motivational, public speaking, self help, Uncategorized

I Made A Terrible Mistake

I made a terrible mistake when I mounted the platform to speak officially for the first time. I had been invited by a prestigious insurance company to one of their breakfast morning sessions to end the year at Christmas back in 2014.

I was nervous because I so wanted to impress the person who had invited me to speak. More than wanting to impress him, I did not want to let him down. I also felt that there was a lot at stake here. This was my first speaking engagement. If properly done, it could open so many other doors.

Image result for first speaking engagement clip art

Given the theme for the session, I gave it much thought. I tried to find a unique, pseudo-intellectual opening and angle. I wrote, re-wrote, added, subtracted and just kept changing so many times in an effort to have the perfect speech.

I tried memorizing the speech just a few days before. I knew what I wanted to say. I knew my personal story. But I wanted it to sound exactly the same as I had it written down.

On the morning of the event, I got up early. I dressed in an immaculate white pantsuit with a sky blue vest. My accessories matched the blue of the vest. My hair was well coifed and of course although no one would smell my speech, I sprayed my best perfume that morning.

I thought I looked pretty good, all things considered. I knew I smelt good. I had lost a lot of weight since 2013; it was about twenty pounds or so. The pair of trousers was a bit slack but it did not matter. It fit well and stayed up without a belt.

Anxiously, I packed up the car with copies of my book for sale as well as the roller banner that my mother had given me as a gift at the launch of my first book.

We got there very early. “There” was a local hotel which was very close to the southern coastline in Trinidad. The view was magnificent. The cool morning air was refreshing and eye-opening. The sea was calm and the whole atmosphere was peaceful.

Final arrangements were being put in place as we walked into the hall where the breakfast was being hosted. We were greeted like celebrities. A special seat was allotted to us. There was ample time for the banner and books to be put in place.

Soon enough, the programme started but first we were invited to have breakfast. Breakfast was good I remember but I honestly cannot remember the various items.  As we ate, a couple performed several songs, some local, some oldies not local. I was blown away by how good they sounded and by their performance. Speeches related to the annual insurance performances by the various agents and agencies were next.

Then it was time for the guest speaker…me! I went with my notes thinking that if I forgot or stumbled, I would have the notes to help me back on track. Big mistake. I got up in front everyone and, although I taught for so many years, I somehow got stage fright. I started to read my speech.

Sure I looked up and made eye contact. Sure I ad-libbed to some of my past students in the audience. But that did not change the fact that I read my speech. I knew my story so why did I do that? I must have panicked. I do not know for sure, but that must have been the reason.

I felt that I did not connect with my audience… and I most likely did not. I felt so disappointed with myself. I had let down the gentleman who had invited me. All they needed was a testimony. I went with the wrong approach.

The good thing about making that terrible mistake was that I learnt a valuable lesson. I could plan my speech but I must not read it. I should not even walk with prompts because I may just revert to reading them instead of speaking from the heart.

Since then I have planned my speeches. I know what my message is. I adjust the speech to suit the theme or the audience and then I talk…straight from the heart. I allow my personality to show (just a bit because I am not sure how many can actually handle my personality). I relate with the previous speakers. I make references to current events if relevant. Perhaps the most important thing that I do is to give praise to God in all that I do.

Making that terrible mistake the first time may have prevented any further engagements as a result of that event but, it taught me how to approach future speaking engagements.

gun violence, inspirational, motivational, resilience, Uncategorized

How Victims of Gun Violence Cope

If you were a victim of gun violence, then this blog post is for you. I am reaching out to anyone whose life was drastically affected by an act of gun violence.

My story is told in part on my blog. You may read the older posts. I also wrote a book on my story of survival, pain and healing.

I would like to hear from you if you too suffered as a result of gun violence. I am particularly interested in how you coped, how the healing process is coming along for you and if you are now doing anything that you may not have done if you had not been shot.

The purpose of doing this is to start a blog series with stories from survivors. The intention is to provide stories that imbue hope for others who may be struggling to cope with a desperate situation. Through reading about the overcoming of adversity by others, perhaps someone might be able to make a positive change in their life.

Initially I am focusing on gun violence but I am willing to interview victims of violence generally.

If you are willing to be interviewed so that your story can inspire someone else, please leave a message in the comments below or you may email me at caron_asgarali@yahoo.com

The stories will be published with or without real names depending on your choice. Primary  (actually injured) or secondary (affected but not shot) victims are welcomed.

In my third book, I wrote about the value of deflecting attention away from yourself to help others. It really does work to help you heal when you help someone else. I look forward to hearing from some of you, as we take this leap forward to help others.

Leave a comment in the space below to let me know your thoughts.

education, gun violence, motivational, peace

Violence… a learned behaviour

aggressive-violent-behavior-nature-or-nurture

The response of violence to conflict is, to some extent, a learned behaviour. This statement includes gun violence.

It comes from a place of fear of being a target, fear of living daily with the threat of gun violence and fear of not conforming. That is a lot of fear.

Even before a crime takes place, guns, and the accompanying violence, play a significant part in the lives of those in communities with a reputation of violence.

The outcome of such fear and learned violent behaviour is a lack of respect for the value of life, individual, community and national life.

Those who suffer directly or indirectly from the effects of gun violence all reach to the same place emotionally and mentally.

This congruence of feeling and thought creates a hopeful opportunity. It ought to become the catalyst that gives us the will and courage to address the gun violence that is becoming a part of our daily life.

Religious leaders are casting blame on the lack of coherence of family units for the increasing violence in society.

Alternatively a family may be unified but their environment and learned responses of violence precludes the teaching of respect for anything including life.

One leader has included the availability of drugs and weapons as well as the existence of gangs as factors contributing to the rising violence and incidences of gun related crimes.

All of these are true. The reasons are valid and relevant.

However my aim (no pun intended) is not to cast blame or vent anger or frustration against the system or the perpetrators of violence.

Instead my aim is to amplify the message of the sanctity of life and the kind of respect each one of us needs to have for the life of another.

With every pull of a gun trigger, there emerges a bullet that may hit a living target.

That bullet may penetrate through tissue, tendons, nerves, muscles and bones causing physical damage in the immediate area.

figure8

The kinetic energy of that compact piece of lead disseminates to surrounding organic matter causing further damage not immediately visible.

Similarly, that same bullet penetrates the psyche of the victim and his or her family, friends and associates, tearing their lives apart emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially and in other ways.

The ripple effect of that nucleus of destruction is far reaching and has no time limits.

The learned behaviour of violence in response to conflict can be unlearnt. New, more peaceful responses can be learnt which lead to greater respect and harmony.

Your response?

bounce back better, gun violence, motivational, peace, resilience, self help, Uncategorized

R.A.R.E.

Raising Awareness on the Ripple Effect of gun violence. R.A.R.E. GuV

Paving the way toward peace.  

The two statements above are representative of the work I am about to undertake. The actual title and tagline are still being worked on but soon enough I will get there.

This work ties in with the availability of my third published book, Bounce Back Better, 10(+1) Key Steps for building Resilience. The idea for working to combat the forces that drive violent actions was born at a Global Leadership Summit I attended in Trinidad during October 2016.

I had plans to raise awareness of the plight of victims of gun violence prior to that, through the book, and I had a vague concept of what was needed to be done but, attending that summit brought a degree of clarity that was missing.

In this post, on this new page, I give you the rationale for such action and the nature of my stance i.e. a position of action not reaction, not blame. So here goes.

Sunday January 29th, 2017 will mark the fourth anniversary of the day that gun violence made its indelible mark on my life and the lives of many within my inner circles.

There are those who would trivialize such an incident by remarking, “It has been four years after all, move on, forget about it.”

Sadly, though it may be easy to utter such words, anyone with a social conscience will know that path of simply forgetting and moving on is obvious only for the unenlightened. For those who have been through the fires of such an adverse situation, the path forward requires more than physical and emotional healing. Recovery is an ongoing process that demands giving of self to elevate society.

As such I have come to that point in my personal journey where I may now serve by sharing from my experience. The prevalence of gun violence in my beautiful twin island home of Trinidad and Tobago is increasing. It has now become almost the norm to hear reports of yet another fatality or injury through gun violence. In fact the current statistic available at the time of writing this piece, taken  from the Trinidad and Tobago 2016 Crime & Safety Report , reveals that 81% of murders in 2015 were committed by the use of a firearm (https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=19522). No figures were available for 2016.

Being a former victim positions me to speak out in favour of peaceful resolutions instead of violent persuasion. The burden of responsibility for raising awareness about the ripple effect of gun violence is squarely cast upon my shoulders.

The position I have chosen to adopt  is not to cast blame or seek to point fingers at anyone. It is not intended to vent anger or frustration against those who choose the use of guns. Instead the purpose is to raise awareness of the ripple negative impact of the use of guns. Through that awareness, the mission is to generate peaceful resolutions and attitudes. The ultimate purpose of R.A.R.E of gun violence is to bring to the forefront the sanctity and value of life and the respect we need to have for individual lives.

The effect of gun violence has already impacted many of our citizens in the past. Perhaps even as you read this, someone else may be affected. It may have indirectly affected you. Who knows what the future holds? Let us not keep assuming it is going to be someone else and their family. Let us strive to add our one drop to the ocean to make a difference. Let us embrace peace and work toward developing our moral, mental and spiritual consciousness as we systematically reinforce our strengths to defeat the kind of environment that breeds violence.

Let us pave the forward peacefully.

book launch, bounce back better, Health and lifestyle, inspirational, motivational, self help

Bounce Back Better

My third book is now available online. I have included a link below. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Bounce Back Better

Bounce Back Better

For those of you who are interested in self-publishing or independent publishing, look out for some posts soon.

Those who are looking for different ways to launch a new book, I will keep you updated.

Thank you for your support.

Let me know, in the comments below, what particular questions are troubling you about the publishing process or about a launch. That way I can tailor my post to your needs.

Leaving you with my special brand of sunshine for now.

bounce back better, Health and lifestyle, mental health, motivational

Today is World Mental Day, 2016 and there has been a host of information coming at me from the newspaper, Facebook posts and a Radio programme.

For the first time I delved into the pages of activists for mental health. I am amazed and impressed by the few I have had time to look at for today only.

I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2013. I accessed excellent psychological, medical and social support, through the public system, friends and family.

Truth be told though, upon careful examination of my life, I think I may have been experiencing bouts of depression for a much longer time than I can recall.

Over the years I can recount many, many occasions when my thinking was fuzzy and there was mental fog.

I would be hard on myself, always believing that I was just anti-social. Anti-social, because I would avoid going out, refuse to answer telephone calls and generally withdraw from many activities.

Activist/comedian based in the United Kingdom, Ruby Wax, likes to quote that  1 in 4 persons are suffering with some form of mental illness and, in the same breath, suggest that the figure is really 4 in 4. In other words, almost all, if not all, of us have some degree of mental problem.

Image result for mental health

If those figures are to be believed, then there are several implications with which we need to deal. I will focus on just one for today’s post.

If so many of us are ailing in this aspect of our lives, then we should be more compassionate toward each other. All of us are hurting, why do we need to add to that hurt by placing negative labels?

The stigma of a diagnosis associated with mental health is real. It is so real, that many are unwilling to admit it even to themselves. It is so real that it is a flowing source for comedic relief.

We do not hear of jokes about heart health, kidney health or other physical illnesses. In fact to laugh at any of these physical problems would be highly insensitive.

Yet…we continue to cajole or even badger those who are experiencing mental challenges to shrug it off, get going, stop being lazy and just get over it. We get impatient and intolerant when they begin sharing their situation with us.

Sadly instead of being supportive, what is needed, we become less available and less encouraging to those who have real mental challenges.

A mental health diagnosis is not necessarily a sign of being totally out of control of your thinking, beliefs and actions. Dr. Hanif E. A. Benjamin expressed it so well this morning on a local radio programme.

He said that mental health illness can be considered as falling along a continuous spectrum. There is a wide range of problems, from minor to severe. Some problems allow a person to function at a high level in society while other problems reduce that level so  that a person is unable to function according to societal norms.

The statistics are real and are a reflection of the times in which we live as well as only accounting for those who actually seek help. This means that the figures are probably much higher in reality.

There is help. We all can help. Ignorance and lack of compassion are unacceptable in these so-called enlightened times.

Let us all join in  fanning the flames of passion lit by the activists for and professionals in mental health. Let us start developing our compassion, humanity and respect for all life. Let us nullify the stigma as we stand in solidarity with each other for mental health issues.

Are you on board? Are you willing to help educate and support in the field of mental health? Are you already doing your part? Please leave a comment and let me know.

 

bounce back better, inspirational, motivational, resilience, Uncategorized

The Leaning Tower of… You!

Here is another offering from my new book, sent for publishing and soon to be launched.

“…making incremental changes, particularly during times of trauma or crisis, may be easier to do than making radical changes. Additionally, a shift in behaviour could translate into significant emotional and intellectual alterations.

 

Consider the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Tower now leans at an angle that has been adjusted over the years since its construction. The top of the Tower is about 4.5 metres displaced from the vertical. What this means is that there is a slight displacement at the base of the Tower that manifests into an amazing tourist attraction at the top and a phenomenon of physics. Regardless of the reasons behind the leaning of the Tower, the result is indisputable. A slight shift is sufficient to create a wonder!”

Have you ever noticed any significant change in your life resulting from a minor alteration in your belief, attitude or behaviour? Leave a comment below to let me know please.